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What is urea and AdBlue, and why does a worldwide shortage threaten Australia’s supply chain?

3 min read You may have never heard of urea, but the worldwide shortage of the chemical compound could bring Australia’s supply chain to its knees in a matter of weeks.

The world is facing a major shortage of the compound, a key ingredient found in the diesel ­exhaust fluid AdBlue and a large component in fertiliser.

The main reason for the shortage is that China, which previously supplied 80% of Australia’s urea supplies, has banned export of the product. That’s because the cost of fertiliser has skyrocketed and China wants to slow that price growth.

But this could inadvertently force many of Australia’s trucks off the road, as urea is injected into the exhaust systems of modern diesel vehicles to reduce emissions, which is a requirement for trucks, private vehicles and tractors.

The shortage could also lead to higher food prices at the register.

So what is urea and how badly could the shortage impact Australia’s supply chain?

60 Minutes investigates: Americans fighting for access to sewage disposal

7 min read Lowndes County, Alabama, which sits between Selma and Montgomery, was once called Bloody Lowndes for its central role in the struggle for civil rights. Today people in Lowndes are fighting for another basic right: access to sewage treatment. By some estimates more than half the impoverished, rural residents have raw sewage running into their yards and even their houses. Catherine Coleman Flowers, a White House adviser and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, is turning a spotlight on this long-standing public health failure. She says it’s a problem, found in other parts of Alabama and all over the country, which even the millions of dollars in new infrastructure spending are unlikely to fix. Flowers brought us home to Lowndes County to see what she calls America’s dirty secret. We warn you, it can be hard to watch.

Declare South Africa’s wastewater treatment a national disaster, urges SAHRC

9 min read With an electricity crisis, service providers can literally turn off the power to rectify a situation, but when it comes to water and sanitation, there is no way to shed shit. This past week, the SA Human Rights Commission recommended that the situation regarding failing wastewater treatment works in South Africa, and their pollution of the country’s water resources, be declared a national disaster.

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